Jeune filles au piano – Young Girls at the Piano – 1892 – Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841 – 1919 was a French artist and a leading painter in the development of the impressionist style. At the age of 21 he began studying art formally. He had his first success with “ Lise with a Parasol “ in 1868, but recognition was slow in coming.
In 1874, having joined forces with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and several others, he entered six paintings in the first Impressionist Exhibition. Renoir’s work was well received, though the exhibition as a whole was not successful and two of his works were shown in London. He attracted portrait commissions, continued to exhibit and by 1879 age 38 he was a successful and fashionable painter.
In 1890 age 49 he married Aline and Renoir’s life became more serene. He painted many scenes of his wife and children depicting family life. This period of his life is sometimes referred to as his “ Pearly Period “, when colours become softer-keyed producing silvery hues and a wonderful “pearly” transparency of flesh tones.
The “Young Girls at the Piano” belongs to this period. Renoir received a commission from the French government for a painting to hang in the Museum of Living Artists, the Luxembourg Palace. Wishing to create a work that was truly representative of him, Renoir produced six almost identical versions – four in oil, one in pastel and an oil sketch. The painting chosen is thought to be the least successful of the set as the style is quite conventional and the faces somewhat studied. For modern tastes, the version probably painted first with its looser, blotchy applications of colour is perhaps favourite. The subtle changes in detail, poses and background between the versions can be seen in the illustrations.
To quote Renoir during this period, “For me painting must be agreeably joyful and pretty – yes, pretty! There are enough depressing things in life without our creating still more”.
John Innes from Foveran, was coxswain of the Newburgh life boat from 1908 -1931. On the night of October 15th 1923 the trawler, Imperial Prince, ran aground off Black Dog north of Aberdeen, and the Newburgh Lifeboat made two unsuccessful attempts to rescue the crew. When the crew of a cruiser in Aberdeen harbour volunteered to take the lifeboat out again, the exhausted John Innes went as coxswain and seven of the nine crew were rescued. For his bravery, he was awarded a silver medal by the RNLI.
His portrait, by James McBey is displayed in Aberdeen Art Gallery, which we will be visiting when it re-opens. A local artist and a local hero to inspire us in the difficult weeks ahead.
I would like to kick off our Art on the Web Posts with an appreciation of a renowned and well loved local artist – no, not Barrie!
James McBey was born in Newburgh (some say Foveran, some Aberdeen), in 1883. Initially self taught, learning to etch from a book, he later attended classes at Gray’s School of Art. At the age of 27 he abandoned his job as a bank clerk to concentrate on his art. He travelled in Europe, America and North Africa, began painting in watercolour, and in just one year had his first exhibition at a London Gallery. During the First World War he was appointed an official war artist and produced hundreds of oil and watercolour paintings and sketches in France, Egypt and Palestine. Marrying his American fiance, Marguerite Loeb, in 1931, they settled in Morocco, where he died in 1959.
His work is displayed in galleries in the UK and America and Aberdeen Art Gallery has a fine collection, much of it donated by his widow. Coincidentally, three years ago today, it was announced that the Marguerite McBey Trust had gifted a quarter of a million pounds to the redevelopment of the art gallery.
As with everything else at the moment we have had to suspend our meetings. And, while that means no more perusing each others efforts and generally chewing the fat, artistic or otherwise, over coffee, happily, it doesn’t mean we won’t be beavering away with our projects. We aim to keep everyone motivated with regular posts about what we are working on and what inspires us. The weather this week has been perfect for going out and snapping images to work from, or even to sketch or paint from life; gardens, woodlands, beaches, castles – the choice around here is immense.
The group was shocked and deeply saddened to learn last week that one of our members had passed away. Chris Kemp was one of our newest members but in the two years he was with us he made many friends. His artistic talent, enthusiasm for art and optimism in the face of serious illness truly impressed us all. Chris will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
A new term for the art group, a new decade and lots of interesting projects coming to life. We are lucky to be living in such a beautiful area with so much inspiration for our work. The recently furbished Aberdeen Art Gallery is also a fabulous incentive to get creative; we can hardly fail!
Members of EDAG gathered with family and friends to remember and celebrate the life of Mabel Mckechnie, one of our longest standing members. She had been a very talented artist and a friend of many in the group. She will be sadly missed.